By Molly Meeks, LPC, NCC
The current trend of multitasking has caused many of us to get sucked into a chaotic lifestyle. Sometimes we find ourselves repeating the same pattern of behavior even though it isn’t working or is holding us back. Maybe you realize that you need to make some changes—but you’re afraid that if you rock the boat, you might capsize an already unsteady ship.
In today’s world, feeling overwhelmed by such a lifestyle can result in anxiety and depression. If chaos is clearly keeping us from leading healthy and meaningful lives, then why do so many of us continue down this path? In order to answer this question, we must first define what makes up a chaotic life.
- Having few if any boundaries. (Everyone knows they can count on you in a crisis even if you really don’t have time for it.)
- Doing your best to adhere to God’s plan for your life as you define it—for example, trying to keep everybody happy and feeling guilty if you ever “fail.”
- Carrying a Smartphone that ensures everyone will be able to reach you within minutes—whether by call, text, email, or Facebook.
- Dedicating yourself to making sure your children have everything they want.
- Working full time plus so you can fund your high-end lifestyle or so you don’t risk disappointing those with whom you work.
- Trying to provide home-cooked meals regularly and keep your house clean and perfectly organized.
Does any of this sound familiar? It was all too familiar to me when I departed on my second mission trip to Uganda this spring.
I went on the journey with the intention of witnessing to and helping those who are less fortunate. My goal was to serve God by following His Word in Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
However, as is often the case with mission trips, I feel like I received much more than I gave. I was reminded that the source of happiness is not from living life “right,” nor from having material possessions.
When I traveled to Uganda for the first time, I learned that a simple life is more than likely a happy life. I was surrounded by children who had no toys, wore tattered clothes, were barefoot and dirty, and who lived in huts with no running water. Yet they were beaming with joy! Unfortunately, it was a lesson I quickly forgot. So this year I watched closely to try to see what I could learn from these Ugandan children with the hope of actually making lasting changes in my own life, changes that would help me live more simply and be more fully present with my family and friends.
Now that I’m back, I hope to incorporate these new philosophies into my everyday life. Here’s what I’ve found is the key for countering chaos in your daily life:
- Let go of your drive to be perfect. We are not and cannot be perfect. Pray for direction and that the choices you make can be used to glorify God.
- Turn off your phone. Choose to be fully present with your family and friends.
- Relax and accept the grace that God offers us rather than focusing on earning His approval. Consciously try to move, eat, talk, etc., more slowly.
- Surround yourself with healthy friends. Find a Sunday school class or small group that fits your stage in life and be genuine with them.
- Try to think positively and keep your sense of humor. Laughter is a well-known stress and anxiety antidote.
- Simplify. Stuff equals stress—so de-clutter your cabinets, drawers, and closets.
These types of life changes are not going to just occur on their own. They will require commitment and maybe even an accountability partner. Don’t you think we’re worth it? God does!